Commission extends big game tag auction comment period

Idaho Fish and Game commissioners on Thursday 2/4, postponed a decision to offer big-game tags for auction until their March 9-11 meeting in Boise to allow more time for the public to comment on the proposal.

The extended comment period will close March 4th.

The comment period has reopened.
  1. Auction tag proposal document [PDF 92kb]
  2. Decision postponed, auction tag press release ( 2/4/16 )
  3. Original auction tag press release ( 1/29/16 )
  4. Comment on the proposal

Late January 2016 - It's Time to Play - Go Fish!!

If you want to beat cabin there are great opportunities. Here are some random angling reports from the past week. Some are typical fishing spots for this time of year, but others may cause you to say, "why didn't I think of that?"

Ice Fisheries:

Cascade is "spotty" at best. People are catching a few large perch and rainbow trout through the ice. If you are looking for qualilty and not quantity - Poison Creek is a good spot. Sugarloaf has produced a few more trout but you need a snowmachine to access the reservoir.

Payette Lake as been yielding lake trout. I've seen several in the 20" - 30" range. Jig just off the bottom in deeper water areas (upper 2/3 of the lake). Be careful on the edge of the ice because it is still a little soft.

Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir has produced nice trout through the ice. Fish the bays, such as Gray's Landing with bait. Anglers are finding fish in 10' - 12' of water.

Magic Reservoir is fishing much like Cascade. Fishing has been "spotty" with some anglers being "skunked." Fish bait about 10 - 12' deep for best results.

LIttle Wood Reservoir is a fishery that has yielded nice catches of rainbow trout with most anglers reporting limits followed by catch-and-release action. You need a snowmachine to access the reservoir.

Warm Lake has been good fishing with several reports of anglers catching limits of rainbow trout. Again, you need a snowmobile. Use eggs, corn, worms or maggots for great results.

Mackay Reservoir is a great winter fishery - if you don't mind a slight breeze. Locals are catching rainbow, cutthroat and an occasional perch using bait.

Bank Anglers and Open Water:

C.J. Strike near Air Force Ramp and Cottonwood Boat Launch have both been reported as great locations to catch rainbow trout and perch. Anglers are reporting bait and lures both yielding great results. Lures (e.g. Dare Devil, Rooster tail) have been effective for rainbow trout.

Arrowrock and Lucky Peak have both been good from the bank. Rainbow trout limits are common using mostly bait (worms, corn, etc.).

Be Careful Ice Fishing - January 2016

I recently observed pictures on social media of anglers ice fishing on Lake Lowell near Nampa. Anglers and other recreationists going out on the ice on lower elevation lakes, reservoirs and ponds need to be very careful and be prepared with safety equipment. Have 20'+ of rope, never go alone and maintain distance between yourself and other anglers. If someone falls through the ice - don't rush to the hole. Remain calm and assess your situation before moving. Before attempting a rescue - call for assistance. Spread your weight out on the ice by laying down or rolling to the bank or a safe distance from the hole.  Use a long stick, ladder or rope to assist anyone who's fallen through the ice to get back on top. If you've fallen through the ice, put both arms on the ice and kick like you are swimming. It is much easier to get back on the ice by kicking and pulling yourself forward with the help from a buddy holding a long stick or rope.

As temperatures start to warm, the edges of the ice can become unsafe. Pay attention to your surrounds because conditions can change rapidly.

Learn more about ice fishing in Idaho.

Winter on C. J. Strike Reservoir Yields Hot Fishing 2015/2016

On these bitter-cold winter days, it's easy to succumb to retail therapy at your favorite angling outfitter to re-stock for Spring. But while most anglers are enjoying a cup of cheer, you could be out enjoying prime fishing for the many species of game fish that Idaho has to offer!

Todays conditions were brisk: 20F ambient, 38F water temp, and post-frontal. I set out in search of the elusive cold-season Smallmouth Bass (a venture set aside for the self-punishing). My game-plan was to fish legendary CJ Strike with jigs and spoons along the usual target areas: rock bluffs and hard slopes in 30+ ft of water.

I am committed to landing just one bass amidst these winter months. But alas, chance did not hold that for me. I did, however, find myself gripped by adrenaline in the fight of my life against so many of the biggest native Rainbow Trout that this part of the Snake River has to offer. In the following paragraphs, I divulge my secrets intended for the hardy angler.

Sometimes you have to try what feels right and let chance take its course. Convention tells us that nearly all freshwater species are slow and picky this time of year. While this can prove to be true, I am not always in support of that thought.

The trout this time of year are very aggressive on sunny days in dead winter. Yellow Perch and Crappie are also always willing. All can be found in the same areas: deep holes surrounding structural points and dropoffs. My bait of choice was a crawdad plastic on a 1/2 oz. football jig. Electronics are important for the boat-angler, and the name of the game is elevation change.

If you fish from shore on a lake like CJ, you should aim to fish a steep dropoff, as is found on shore access points both above and below the dam. Fish are feeding in slack-current areas alongside main river flow. I fished near the spillway of CJ Strike Dam because it fits this terrain bill to a 'T'. The winning retrieve in today's scenario was a sweeping pull-and-float-down retrieve. Be sure to keep in contact with your lure by maintaining a semi-slack line, as most strikes will occur during the fall. You should cast, let the lure fall to the bottom, the sharply jerk your rod-tip up, and while your lure is falling again, slowly reel in to maintain contact. This jagged up- and-down motion replicates the dying minnows that fish this time of year feed on. Be sure to fan out your casts across all of your available range.

While this style, adapted from bass tactics, requires more work than just casting a crawler on a Carolina rig and waiting for a strike, you will find that you cover more water and your numbers will increase. It is also important to note that--in winter--you are still fishing the "off season," and your expectations should be much lower for numbers. If we only land one fish during this time of year, that is cause for celebration! And should your creel remain empty on the drive home, at least you spent the day out enjoying the beautiful sights offered by Idaho's intriguing winter season! Bring a stack of firewood and some snacks.

Whether you choose to enjoy the day with friends or in the solitude of fishing solo, do so safely and remember, if fishing were easy, they'd call it 'catching'! 

Ryan C.

Idaho Spring Bear--Brown Phase of Black Bear--2015

It was early June and 2 days before the end of the Spring Bear Season. Me and my buddy Mike were hunting over bait outside of Smith's Ferry ID. This was our third day with nothing that we had wanted to take. About 5:45 in the evening we got a glimpse of a brown patch moving through timber, but nothing else. 20 minutes later we saw a black patch from an animal moving above us and too or left through heavy timber. We waited--down the hill from left to right comes a beautiful black bear right into our opening.